Jazz Music & Fundraising – An unlikely Pair

jazz image

Have you ever wondered how certain things get invented and what thought went into the discovery and execution of the product or idea? I frequently ask myself how things were created and the “back story” of what went into such development such as the brilliance of putting wheels on suitcases, or the creation of the drive-thru and something I still use today…sticky notes!

One of the discoveries I recently became aware of was how Jazz music was created and the assembly of how this music was established, shaped and the impact it has had on society.

I recently sat in on a talk by a well-known Chicago pastor, Dr. Otis Moss III, whose father worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Moss’s talk was on Truthtellers and creating a just world, and he tied in the early days of how Jazz music was created and it being a compilation of many cultures (African and European) that came together in New Orleans. That is fairly well known…what isn’t well known was the insightful foundation behind Jazz music and the impact it has had and made on society.

Jazz music as Dr. Moss shared, is music that shouldn’t be played together. The instruments look different, play different and sound different with musicians playing at the same time – music that seemingly shouldn’t work well together or mesh but it does creating a lively, soothing sound to form a unique harmony.

Sometimes it’s similar with fundraising. Our jobs as fundraisers include listening to understand the many different voices and opportunities  and we need to work to bring these things that maybe seem like they don’t go together…well, together.  If the Development Department is working in one silo and the Program Department is off working in another…sometimes to a different set of goals and core values, the organization will struggle in the voyage of fulfilling the mission of the organization. In my colleague, Susan Matejka’s recent post, Leadership Roles , she highlights the importance of mutual trust and a collaborative partnership between the board and staff and the “rhythm” that is required to run a solid organization. This rhythm is central throughout the staff and the day-to-day operations and it’s fundamental to keeping staff aligned with the goals and enthusiastic about working for the organization.

As you head into the Season of Giving and the busy weeks leading up to your year-end appeals and follow-up outreach, remember to involve the program staff in your messages and getting them to weigh in on your methodology as they are part of your band in making sure the that tune is played together and not as a solo. Start acting and performing like a Jazz organization and watch your fundraising efforts flourish.

by: Tim Kennedy, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions


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